From director Nick Frangione, Intuition Film and Tomorrowland Productions comes a story of a boy, a father and life when it comes to BUCK RUN.
Shaw (Nolan Lyons) lives in a small town with a very ill mother. One morning he discovers the worst thing a young man could, that his mother is gone. Not telling anyone for a day he tries to process but instead is sent by Officer Daniels (Jim Parrack) to live with his absentee father William (James Le Gros).
Since his parents separation, Shaw hasn’t seen much of William who seems to spend more time at the swap meet or with friend John (Kevin J. O’Connor). The Shaw and his father don’t seem to have too much to say to each other but the boy wants to know about the arrangements being made for his mother.
If that isn’t enough to handle, Shaw has to deal with being the target of a very large bully who doesn’t care one wit about any of his problems. Time and time again it is as if Shaw is handed insult to injury with no true adult to turn to. Maneuvering his emotions and the task of almost having to be the adult in the relationship with his father, Shaw begins to understand what takes most of us a lifetime to come to terms with.
Being a kid sometimes means accepting human frailty no matter how deep it goes.
Lyons as Shaw is absolutely stunning in this role. He is a young man clearly in the middle of adult problems and death starting the ball rolling. This young actor gives us everything we would expect and so very much more. Shaw is a complex character (just being a teen is the beginning) who is forced to navigate through the toxic environment created by those around him. It is amazing how quickly I wanted to embrace Shaw but found myself realizing that at his young age he does what we all tend to do, roll with the punches and accept.
Le Gros as William is a man with his own emotional issues and it becomes quickly clear that Shaw inherited those same qualities. Keeping things locked away and excusing it all when those feelings start to bubble to the top, William hides in the forest and shoots his problems away. Whether through heredity or the environment around him, Le Gros portrays a man who has learned that problems don’t get put on Facebook and you suck it up and move on. What a lesson there is in these two characters.
Yoder as Kevin is trying to be a good friend to William but even that relationship hits a bump in the road when a truth surfaces. Yoder is an amazing actor to begin with so I expect everything I saw in this performance and applauded. Parrack as Officer Daniels tries, in his own way, to keep an eye on Shaw but as we see with the men in this film, it’s easy to nod that all is well and not face the reality of what this boy is going through.
Other cast include Amy Hargreaves as Karen, Alicia Goranson as Misty, Rod Luzzi as Alan Davis, Marcin Paluch as Mike, Roy Wilson as Dan, Aaron Marcus as Ned, Isaac Conner as Walt, Robert Frangione as Charlie and the ever amazing Angus Macfadyen as Angus Ford.
BUCK RUN is about as emotional as a film can get but that emotion comes from the audiences’ reaction to Shaw. The story is such that I wanted to scream at the screen for someone, anyone to have an emotional reaction to what is happening to the boy. There is where the film gets you, the intensity of hoping that someone up on the screen will save him. Remember how I spoke about acceptance? Well, you will find yourself accepting the result whether you like it or not.
The fact is that BUCK RUN has layer after layer of emotion but they are buried in the family history of the family. There is love but it is not open, there is compassion but its hidden by generations of ‘suck it up’ and there is concern but it’s hidden under the leaves of a town stuck in its own beliefs and whoa be an outsider.
Having come from a small town in Illinois, I found myself slowly beginning to understand the creatures of habit in BUCK RUN’s town. There is a sense of things stuck in time and emotional traditions that people will hold on to until they are dust. There is no suggestion of hijacking emotions as being right or wrong – it just is.
I had the chance to interview director Frangione and discovered first of all that he has an amazing sense of humor which I appreciate. He also told an audience at the San Diego International Film Festival this past weekend that he came from a small town like the one in the film. He was drawn to the story because of its complexities and I can honestly say he captured them all in the film. I congratulated him on the cast because each one brought a uniqueness to the story.
It is dark, it is tense and between the characters, the location and the cinematography, Frangione understood all of those elements to bring BUCK RUN to its conclusion. It may not be the one we want for Shaw but it is one that we will accept so what does that say about us?
In the end – a boy, his father and things that are never said.